Rock 'n' Roll logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

LIKE an epidemic that resurfaces at irregular intervals, the ball season is upon us again. You know the sort of thing - small ball versus holes, ramps and various ball-breaking devices in a quest to get to the other side. Funny thing about this one is that it has a fairly original title. Rainbow Arts must've lost its marbles.

Anyways, the low-down on the situation is this. You must guide your ball past various obstacles and explore each of the 32 levels. The levels are divided up into seven continents, each with its own signature tune and particular terrain characteristics.

Graphically amazing, a lot of thought has gone into the backgrounds and the various features to enable them to be highly detailed and visually entertaining and yet prevent them from becoming confusing.

The path to enlightenment is not easy, for it is strewn with many hazards and temptations. In some places the way is not only eightfold, but is twisting the concepts of euclidean geometry.

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way won't do much good. But you can always look at the map, where detail will be revealed to a depth indicated by the number of eyes you have picked up. Consequently, on the first two levels you will find as much useful information on it as on the back of a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

The problems are mostly logical - you come across a hole in your path so you have to fill it in. Or there is a colour-coded lock so you need the corresponding key. Some problems are a little more obscure. You discover an unpleasant acid bath in your way and there doesn't seem to be any other route. It's probably something to do with one of those mysterious levers that are hanging around.

Further doubt is cast on the raison d'etre of the eggs that appear occasionally. Rolling over them smashes them, but aside from that it appears to have no other effect. Perhaps you're just an Edwina fan.

There are not eight million ways to die, merely three. You can run out of energy by being hit by explosions or energy barriers and the like, you can run out of time on certain levels or you can just fall of the world. Not everything is out to get you - magnets, fans and arrows just want to tell you were to go.

It is a bad idea to get into the habit of doing the obvious. After racing through scores of electric barriers you will find that every time you see one you will have a Pavlovian urge to dash through it. (For further reference look out for the Little Green Man theory in my forthcoming paper on the psychological aspects of crossing the road). Often as not there is a way round it if you are cunning.

The only thing which quells my rampant enthusiasm for Rock 'n' Roll is the apparent lack of a save option. When you've made it to level six it would be nice to start off from there. Perhaps this is a move to increase the durability of the game, something I feel is not necessary because there are always things to explore.

Mouse control is excellent. As soon as I got over the initial frantic paddling stage I found that pixel perfection was possible. The way the ball animates with spots going around helps the feeling of motion, and hence the ease of control.

Sound is not quite what you may have expected from the title but is nevertheless pleasing and plentiful. Worth hooking up to the hi-fi.

Rock 'n' Roll is the best of this genre so far, possibly due to its greater dependence on brain power than mouse power. One thing is confusing me though - where are the sex and drugs?

Rock 'n' Roll logo

RAINBOW ARTS £19.99 * Mouse

Fashion really does move in cycles, and now, all of a sudden, marble and rolling ball games are back in vogue. This one contains 32 levels (or are there more?) to roll your ball around - all of them viewed from above.

It's an old game style, but it's more sophisticated than the early games of this type. To kick off, the levels are large - very large - and access to certain parts is denied until a key is collected that will open a doorway. Of course, the doorways are all colour-coded, so a blue key won't get you through a red door. That's essentially the game. Roll around collecting keys that allow you to move through the level and eventually reach the exit to the next level.

Things, thankfully, are never that easy. The doors can be a problem, but at least they don't kill you, unlike some of the other hazards on the levels. The most obviously horrid things are the holes that are all too easy to roll into and the energy sapping fires and acid pools. Things that are not quite so obviously nasty are the wind machines that blow you off course and the ice patches that send your ball skidding all over the place. Combine a patch of ice with a few holes (or the incredibly nasty, seemingly fine pieces of floor that gradually disintegrate as you stand on them) and you can see there are going to be some serious problems created.

There's only one way to combat some of these things, and that's to buy yourself some extras from the various shops around the levels (you collect money by rolling over the coin symbols which can be found lying around). For example, a green key may be the other side of a hole and the only way to get it is to buy a tile which you can then drop on the hole to get at the key - getting the picture? Other helpful things include spikes which allow you to manoeuvre with precision over ice, armour plating which allows you to bash through certain weak barriers and bombs which can be used to blow holes in walls.

Cope with the problems, roll about collecting the gems for points and complete the level (some levels have to be completed within a time limit) and move on to the next: that's it.


The rock in the title refers to the rock tunes that play throughout the game - which can also be turned off - and as such they're fine. The spot effects are also all right. The game's graphics are very impressive, the animation is just right and the backgrounds for each level are varied and colourful.


Every level is a challenge and there are plenty of puzzles to keep you on your toes. Having to play your way through each level once you re-start the game is a slight niggle, but once you know your way round it becomes less of a problem. The thing that really makes the game though is the control, which is superb. If you're a puzzle solver who likes precise control, this is the sort of thing you're after.

Rock 'n' Roll logo

Rainbow Arts

Every once in a while a game comes along that keeps me playing hour after hour, night after night until I fall asleep over the computer. Rock 'n' Roll is one such game.

It's down to you to guide it through thirty-two levels of mazes. To complete each level you must solve a variety of puzzles including unlocking colour-coded doors, smash fragile barriers and repair missing platforms. Added to this you must be careful not to fall into a precipice or run out of time. To aid you in your mission money is littered around that can be collected and used to buy extras in the shops (for example, parachutres to save you from dropping off a precipice, and bombs to blow away barriers). Occasionally you may find a horde of eggs; if you crush these in the correct order you warp to a higher level.

The playing area is viewed from above and scrolls perfectly smoothly to keep the ball in the middle of the screen. Rock 'n' Roll is beautifully presented. An excellent control system means the player can get straight into the game and start enjoying it right away, and literally hundreds of little touches will keep you hooked.

The graphics are crisp, well defined, varied and colourful if somewhat limited by the nature of the game. Sound is also of an exceptionally high standard, because, although there are only a few spot effects, there are no less than nine fantastic rock 'n' roll tunes.

Rock 'n' Roll is incredibly playable. There are so many features that add a little extra something that will keep you coming back for more; it's one of those games that you'll still be playing after months just to get that little bit further.
Beg, steal, borrow or even buy a copy, but get it somehow.

Rock 'n' Roll logo

Rainbow Arts/ST and Amiga £19.99

Sean: Rock 'n' Roll is one of those really weird games. It's superficially like Marble Madness, but only in as much as you control a ball which you must guide through 32 levels, for no apparent reason. It has more in common with something like Gauntlet but then again the connections are fairly tenuous. Where Gauntlet had you belting round the screen at a right old rate of old knots, Rock 'n' Roll requires you to stop and think and work out loads of puzzles. Aah - that's what it is - a puzzle game and it requires some hefty chunks of lateral thinking at various points. There are colour coded keys, money and diamonds to collect along the way and shops where speed ups and other useful items can be purchased.

Unfortunately, most of the advancing is worked out by trial and error and it can be a real pain to reach a position where you know you can't go on because you need a certain object. I can't get back to the place where the object you need lies. I also found the method of controlling the ball using the mouse awkward. These initial problems put me off Rock 'n' Roll at first, but I later found it a refreshing change from the normal style of game with good sound and colourful detailed graphics. Not a briljant game but not a bad game by anybody's standards.